Your Online Presence Needs Some Spring Cleaning!

Incorrect contact information for your business may be showing up in places you don’t expect. We’ll help you identify the ways you can improve your online presence this Spring! Spring is officially here. Depending where you are it may or may not seem like it yet, but it is time to talk about one of the more maintenance-oriented traditions of this time of year, Spring Cleaning… for your online marketing efforts. Many REALTORS® spend a moment every once in a while to take stock of their various offline marketing materials to make sure nothing needs to be updated. The same concept applies to online materials, but most agents don’t keep track of them nearly as well. Wouldn’t you be frustrated to learn that you were missing out on leads because some piece of contact information like your email address is listed incorrectly online? Seems basic, right? Basic is, of course, another word for “very important.” Spring cleaning may not be the most exhilarating thing you do in the spring, but it is worth it to have a fresh start for the rest of the year.

Steps for Spring Cleaning Your Online Presence

Step 1: Identify the contact information for your business you would like to have appear online

You probably already have this step completed. Take a look at your business card. It likely shows your name, designations and specialties, phone number, email address and website URL. Here are some additional things to note.
  • When it comes to your online presence, consistency is important, make sure the same one email address and website address appear on all your marketing collateral. Many agents find that over time they have picked up more than a couple of both and it is good to focus on just one of each for your spring cleaning project. This is a good practice for keeping things simple for both potential clients and the search engines. Generally speaking, search engines like Google will reward you more for focusing your efforts on one web site than splitting up your efforts between multiple sites.
  • Any email address you put out online will likely start receiving spam. This doesn’t mean not to do it, and it doesn’t mean you should give up on that address if it does start getting some. It does mean that if you want to have a separate email for work and personal purposes now is a good time to think about it.

Step 2: Clean up the sites you have direct control over

Do you have several websites? Has it been a while since you looked at some of them? Check the contact info shown on each one and be careful to look for additional places that information shows up on your sites such as bio pages or listing detail pages. If the website uses email forwarding, check that the forwarding address is still correct. If the site uses contact forms try them out and make sure you are receiving those emails. Be thorough since it can be hard to predict when you will have time to do this again.

Step 3: Go to the websites of your broker, real estate board, and any other site you know you show up on

Most agents, on top of having a website, also have profiles on their broker’s site, on their MLS’s site, and on their corporate site (remax.net, c21.com, coldwellbanker.com, etc). You may also be part of orgnizations like the Chamber of Commerce or a local online business directory. Find yourself on each of these places and check your contact info. If you don’t already show up in these places it is a good idea to contact them. Usually they are happy to include you if you simply ask. However, a lot of these things don’t get updated unless you point them out. iHOUSE Customer Care has even spoken to longtime MLS board members whose contact information turned out to be incorrectly listed on their MLS’s agent directory. Pay special attention to make sure you include your correct website address in these places as this can help it rank better in search engines as well as drive some traffic to your site. Also, make sure to check on any online ads or directory listings you may have paid to show up on. One special category of websites that real estate agents get a lot of traffic from is Listing Directories. These are places online where homebuyers can search for homes across the US. Some major ones include Yahoo Real Estate, GoogleBase, Trulia, Oodle, Craigslist and many more. Some REALTORS® take care of the submissions themselves, some have this taken care of by their broker or corporate office and others pay a company or ad publisher to deal with it for them. This is an especially important place to make sure you still have correct contact information showing and many of these services have no way to know when this information has changed unless you check and then tell them. iHOUSE customers reading this don’t have to worry. Our ListingLaunch tool allows you to submit to the places mentioned above and your contact information is tied to your account info. As long as you keep that up to date, it will always be current at those sites for you.

Step 4: Advanced Cleanup

Once you have covered the places you know you show up, some of you may want to look into some of the places you didn’t know you show up. Here are some things to try.
  • Search for your business name in Google or Yahoo!. Some of the websites that show up are likely to include some contact information for you. Depending on the website they may be happy to update the information they have listed for you.
  • Type your domain name into a search engine. The results will include websites that do or did link to your website. If you had a website or websites that you have since turned off, search for these as well. Many site owners will be glad to be told about a dead link on their site and happy to replace it with your more current information.
  • Check out local online business directories and review sites such as local.google.com, local.yahoo.com, Insiderpages.com and yelp.com. Especially in more urban areas, a profile of your business may already exist. Sites like this also tend to allow you to claim your business listing and fill in additional information as well as update your contact info. In most cases there is no charge for this.
Note: If you have a very extensive presence online, then like a very expansive house, there may be an unlimited amount of cleanup you could choose to do. At some point you will need to find a place stop. The goal here is to cover the basics in all the places you are most visible online, not to get lost on a search for obscure sites. If you spend a couple hours now, then in the coming year you may get a few clients here and there you would have otherwise missed. Isn’t that the kind of spring cleaning that you should be doing every year?